Roses are red, violets are blue. The Mayhem Poets were live at Rowan Afters Hours and where were you?
Unnecessary poem aside, Kyle Rapps, Scottt Raven and Mason Granger took the stage in the Chamberlain Student Center Pit on April 12, ready to let the audience experience their unique blend of poetry and stage theatrics.
Combining improvisation, spoken word, rapping and Dr. Seuss all into one act, the poets gave a performance that was true to their mission: to change lives and society’s perception of poetry.
The group’s ability to rhyme back and forth was reminiscent of the way Run DMC would trade verses between songs. Each member of Mayhem brought a different style and cadence to the table.
With no topic off limits, they spoke on everything from political and social change to literally falling in love with the Internet. Rapps’s voice and energy brought his woeful struggle with roaches in his college apartment to life.
When Raven used a speedy delivery in his poems, it was to help him fight the stereotypes of being a white male participating in inner city rap battles. The 33-year-old used his conversational tone to present his more personal pieces, which he described as a form of therapy.
Not to be forgotten, Granger, 31, has a way of expressing a conscious message while still remaining comedic and without stepping on a soapbox unless, of course, he is preaching the good word of Dr. Seuss as a minister with a southern accent.
During one part of their act, they performed a set of one-word poems. Similar to the kind of game played as a class icebreaker, each member would say a word in an effort to create a coherent sentence. Rapps proceeded to hop into the crowd and purr “The Star-Spangled Banner” leading the trio into doing impressions of cats singing classical music.
“We wanted to show people that there are other ways of doing [poetry],” Raven said.
Since much of the group’s work has hip-hop aspects, Raven said, “It was nice to break out of that [style] where it’s not contingent rhyming as much. It’s a different format.”
Rowan’s own spoken-word poetry group, Lyrical Alliance, got the chance to open up for the poets. The club is currently preparing for the release of its first mixtape, as well as its next open mic night, which took place during Tent State University on April 16.
Despite graduating in 2012, Rachel Bellamy, 24, one of Lyrical Alliance’s co-founders, drove several hours just to be able to attend and perform at the event. Bellamy helped start the club in 2009 and has been performing spoken word since she was 14.
“I really liked that the Mayhem Poets mixed it up by performing both group and solo pieces, all of which were on point and made great use of the stage,” Bellamy said.
Granger said that inspiration comes from everything and that their source of inspiration is no different from anybody else’s.
“Everybody has — at some point — that thought that pops,” Granger said. “And you’re like ‘Yeah!’ but the thing is, what do you do with that in the moment? Do you bang out a tweet? Do you text it to your girlfriend to make her laugh or do you sit and focus on it and really get to know everything that’s in that thought and turn it into a poem?”
Besides touring, each poet has his hands full with a multitude of endeavors. Earlier this month, Rapps released his newest single, “The Sky’s on Fire.”
Raven continues to promote his book about the highs and lows of his love, a collection of Shakespearean sonnets, aptly titled “Sconnettts.” He is also in the midst of developing “Milkshakespeare,” a video series based on his book.
Granger is currently working on expanding Slamfind, a free app that lets users from all over the country search for venues that host poetry slams and open mics. Developed by Granger, this app allows people to establish their own events, while also serving as a hub to upload their work to be shared among the community of poets. Think of it as the Google Maps of performance poetry.
Before closing, Rapps played “The Sky’s on Fire.” The song blared from the speakers as the group stood in a b-boy stance; only for Rapps to pounce into the audience once more. Not for a cat serenade, but to embrace the audience in appreciation.
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